Sunday, 25 May 2008

William Hartston - “The Drunken Goldfish”

A celebration of Irrelevant Research - and a darned hilarious, laugh-out-loud book. The whole book is a stream of examples of academic research - from as far back as Greek times - that is of rather questionable value (and validity!).
Examples include whether worms acquire knowledge by eating educated worms; that rats are more attracted to other rats than to tennis balls; that pigeons can discriminate with 80% accuracy between music by Bach and by Hindemith; and that Holy Water does not affect the growth of radishes.
The book gets its title from research into goldfish and the fact that in 3.1% alcohol goldfish will overtuirn, losing the ability to right themselves after about six to eight minutes. Not only do they fall over when drunk but they have also been demonstrated to forget things more easily. Meanwhile Siamese Fighting Fish become even more aggressive when drunk. The similarity between fish and humans is obviously greater than I had previously realised.

WILLIAM HARTSON is an international chess master and chess commentator for the BBC as well as the author of books like “Soft Pawn”, “How to Cheat at Chess“, and the “Ultimate Irrelevant Encyclopedia”.

1 comment:

  1. I loved that book

    Can't believe its out of print. So annoying.


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